The Sunshine and the Penny

Lovely! It’s a bit of the old whatchamacallit. You know, the old anti-sad.

Sunshine. That’s the one.

Yes, the sun is out for springtime and everybody I see on the street is wearing a pair of stylish sunglasses as if it doesn’t mean a thing. Let me tell you, a Scottish person in sunglasses is quite a sight. They act all nonchalant as if it were perfectly normal to look like a million bucks.

Given a pair of sunglasses, we swagger around with a Ray Charlesish sort of vibe, trying to give them impression that we’ve never so much as heard of a wind-blasted, barnacled northern/Scandie promontory let alone ate our every breakfast on one.

Personally, I ditched my sunglasses long ago as part of my minimalist credo. This means that when the sun finally shines, everyone says to me “Aha, Mr. Minimalist, I bet you wish you had a nice pair of Ray-Bans now don’t you?! Eh? Eh? Eh-eh-eh?” To which, I say, “Not really, for I have the gift of the squint!

And then I give them the squinting of a lifetime.

Look, we only get about ten days of sunshine in a Scottish year, meaning about fifteen Scottish hours of actual Scottish exposure to it. Plus, when the sun finally shines in late April and you get your sunglasses out of the drawer — the drawer in which you also keep such treasures as the yellow Ikea AA batteries, your cuff links, and the expired condoms — you have to blow the dust off their case, an act which makes you feel like an Eminent Victorian.

That’s no way to start a nice spring day is it? Lytton Strachey, get back in your box where you belong until October. Thank you.

I saw a chap riding around in a soft-top car with the hood down this morning too. I bet he just drives around and around for as long as the sunshine lasts. I know that’s what I’d do. The rest of the year, that soft roof is just a place for his cat to sleep.


Anyway, this is all by way of saying how nice it is come out of the shadows for a while and enjoy the odd pootle along the banks of the River Kelvin, often with a friend or two.

It has been quite the business, these warm little strolls. One such walk this week was with my friend Ian and it was quite eventful inasmuch as it allows me to write the following words:

“Dear Diary, I succeeded this week in making Ian laugh.”

Ian has been a comedian for 64 years (40 professionally) and he’s already thought of everything that could possibly be funny. It’s hard to surprise a person like that. You have to leap out like Kato when he least suspects it and, frankly, that’s just too much waiting around inside airing cupboards for my liking.

Besides, comedians aren’t often moved by jokes in the usual way. Comedians tend to look at jokes in the way normal people would look at a boiled egg.

There aren’t many boiled eggs with the kind of charisma that will garner much in the way of genuine human opprobrium. But it can happen.

So Ian and I were out for a walk, away from the hassles of life and the screaming, vertiginous horror of the blank page.

Suddenly, Ian spotted a penny on the ground and he stooped to pick it up.

“You don’t still pick up pennies do you?” I said, and geared up to tell him at length about my strict 5p policy, the exact ins and outs of which I’ll leave to your imagination (or a slow diary day).

“Well,” he said, rubbing the dirt off it with his thumb, “you know the phrase. Find a penny, pick it up…”

“…get AIDs,” I said.

That was it, folks. And you missed it. I know it’s not funny now, not here on the page. I know that. I’m not a complete idiot. But in the moment it was funny and it surprised Ian and it made him laugh. And he should fucking know, okay? He’s got something like a thousand stage hours under his belt. How many have you got? Twenty-seven minutes? I thought as much. Stick to your boiled eggs, madam.

Needless to say, I ran a victory lap around the park, waving my hands like an Olympic gold-medal winner. Rob’s joke. I savoured the words. “Rob’s joke.” It had to happen eventually, I suppose, but inevitability does not tarnish victory.

Anyway, this skin isn’t going to burn itself. Back out for a squint, I think.

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